The Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office announced on Thursday the opening of an investigation into the questioned Defense Minister Walter Ayala, the center of a political storm in Congress over alleged pressure to promote military officers related to the leftist government of President Pedro Castillo.
“The preliminary investigation against the Minister of Defense, Walter Ayala Gonzales, and those who are responsible (s) for the alleged commission of the crimes of abuse of authority and illegal sponsorship, foreseen and sanctioned in the Penal Code,” said the Public Ministry it’s a statement.
The case was opened “after carrying out an exhaustive and rigorous analysis of all the public statements made by the exalted officers, as well as the head of Defense, regarding the latest promotions in the Armed Forces,” the prosecution said to justify its decision. .
The investigation includes the secretary general of the Peruvian presidency, Bruno Pacheco, mentioned by former military chiefs as an intermediary for the alleged political pressure from the government.
The prosecution announced that it will collect the testimonies in addition to the former chiefs of the Army and Air Force, José Vizcarra Álvarez and Jorge Chaparro, respectively, whom the government retired early for opposing the pressure.
The defense minister presented his resignation in this case on Monday, but President Castillo has not confirmed whether he accepts or rejects the resignation of Ayala, a 50-year-old former judge.
If accepted, he would be the tenth minister to lose Castillo in just over 100 days in power.
Castillo removed four days ago the commander of the Army, General José Vizcarra, and the chief of the Air Force, General Jorge Chaparro. Both affirmed that their departures were due to friction with Minister Ayala and Pacheco, who, according to the officials, asked them to irregularly promote officials related to the government.
The Congress, controlled by the right-wing opposition, announced its intention to question Ayala, which would probably lead to the minister being censured by the majority, leading to his departure from office.
The two removed military leaders had been appointed by Castillo three months ago.
Castillo, in power since July 28, narrowly defeated right-wing Keiko Fujimori in a ballot, raising fears among part of Peruvians of a sharp turn toward socialism after decades of liberal policies.